Clerk sued for refusing marriage licenses to same-sex couples


As was inevitable, someone has been taken to court for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples and using god as a defense. In a US district court, Kim Davis, a county clerk in Kentucky, got all teary-eyed as she explained why her faith required her to deny couples a right they were entitled to by law. (This Davis is different from Casey Davis, a clerk in another county who also refuses to issue licenses.)

Rowan County’s clerk prayed and fasted over her decision to refuse marriage licenses for same-sex couples, she testified in federal court, and she said believes she is upholding her oath under the Constitution.

Clerk Kim Davis’ refusal to provide licenses has drawn wide attention after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled last month that marriage is a fundamental right for all couples. Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear ordered clerks to comply with the decision.

“It wasn’t just a spur-of-the-moment decision,” Davis said. “It was thought out, and I sought God on it.”

On the stand Monday, Davis described herself as an Apostolic Christian who believes marriage is defined as the union of one man and one woman under the Bible — “God’s holy word” — and said she contemplated her policy for months.

She choked back tears at times as she argued that issuing licenses under her name would violate her religious beliefs even if a deputy clerk performs the task in her stead.

“If I say they are authorized, I’m saying, ‘I agree with it.’ And I can’t,” Davis said.

Monday’s testimony marked a second hearing in the case, and U.S. District Court Judge David Bunning said he expects to release a decision around Aug. 11. Meanwhile, Davis said she is denying licenses to all couples to avoid discriminating against those in same-sex relationships.

During Monday’s hearing, Davis repeatedly cited religious rights under the First Amendment in her defense. She testified that she attends church “every time the doors are open” and performs a Bible study at a local jail once a week.

She is also refusing to resign.

I wish, when these religious people say they asked god about this or that decision, they would be questioned about what form the answer from god took. Did they hear voices? Did god appear and speak in sign language? Did he send at text message?

I would be very surprised if the court doesn’t order her to issue licenses and then fine her for contempt if she still does not do so. And then she would have something to really cry about.

Honestly, I am just sick of these people whining about their religious beliefs being violated when what they really want is to be able to follow their prejudices. I wonder how many contempt citations it will take with how many clerks before god suddenly ‘reveals’ to them that he has changed his mind and that it is cool with him if they issue licenses.

Comments

  1. anat says

    I would recommend against hiring God as a constitutional lawyer. Though he is cheap, it is really not his area of expertise.

  2. Robert, not Bob says

    Getting punished will allow her to make a new career playing the martyr. Speaking gigs in churches for years, if she can milk it enough.

  3. Reginald Selkirk says

    She choked back tears at times as she argued that issuing licenses under her name would violate her religious beliefs even if a deputy clerk performs the task in her stead.

    This is akin to the argument used by Hobby Lobby, Catholic universities, etc. It’s not that it would be bad just for them to participate directly, they want it not to happen, or else they are being persecuted.

  4. militantagnostic says

    Rowan County’s clerk prayed and fasted over her decision to refuse marriage licenses for same-sex couples

    The fasting is good practice for when she is fired for not doing her job.

  5. dogfightwithdogma says

    Seems to me that refusing to issue a marriage license to all couples is still constitutionally suspect. The court ruled that marriage is a fundamental right. Isn’t refusing to issue a marriage license to a heterosexual couple denying them this right? Isn’t it only a matter of time before a heteorosexual couple also sues this clerk?

  6. DonDueed says

    I have some sympathy for clerks like Ms. Davis. Issuing same-sex marriage licenses was not part of the job description when she was originally hired (or elected?) and change is hard for some people.

    I think a little compromise might be in order. It would be reasonable to allow current employees to refuse to issue licenses — but only if there is someone else in the office who will do so. Any new hire, of course, would be expected and required to issue licenses.

    This might cause some inconvenience in the short term but the bigots will eventually retire or die off and the problem will be resolved.

    But there may be jurisdictions (counties or small towns) where there is only one person empowered to issue licenses. In such cases, do your job or GFTO.

  7. WhiteHatLurker says

    #6 @dogfightwithdogma

    The referenced article says:

    The American Civil Liberties Union sued on behalf of two same-sex couples and two opposite-sex couples, alleging that Davis violated their constitutional rights when refusing licenses. The couples, some of whom testified last week, argue that they live, work and pay taxes in Rowan County, a county of about 24,000 residents halfway between Lexington, Ky., and Huntington, W.Va., and shouldn’t have to drive elsewhere to obtain the paperwork.

  8. EigenSprocketUK says

    #7 DonDueed, I have no such sympathy. They signed up to do all the legal stuff that clerks are needed for. Stuff changes, procedures change, the tools of the job change. They cope, they adapt, or they leave. This one wants to exercise full-on bigotry, refuses to leave, and wants sympathy for it. Truly hateful.

  9. moarscienceplz says

    I wish, when these religious people say they asked god about this or that decision, they would be questioned about what form the answer from god took.

    Moot point, because god always agrees with his believers. That’s why he is such an awesome god!

  10. moarscienceplz says

    I will tell my boss that I can’t work more than 4 hours a day because my religion forbids it, but I do still expect all my current wages and benefits. I promise it wasn’t just a spur-of-the-moment decision, I really prayed long and hard about it!

  11. Mano Singham says

    According to Snopes, the rumor that the clerk Kim Davis has been married four times is probably true. So she really is a big supporter of opposite-sex marriage!

  12. dogfightwithdogma says

    #8 WhiteHatLurker

    The meaning of your reply?

    My comment was a response to the part of the article to which Ed linked which stated that the clerk had stopped issuing marriage licenses to all couples, not just same-sex couples. My point is that since marriage is a fundamental right refusing to issue a license to a heterosexual couple is a denial of a right protected under the constitution, just as much so as denying a license to a same-sex couple is an infringement of a constitutionally protected right.

  13. DonDueed says

    EigenSprocket: your position is perfectly valid. But there are other examples of work rules being “grandfathered”. This seems like a way to ease the transition a bit, as long as it didn’t have too onerous an impact.

    It occurs to me that, in some of these jurisdictions, a person might run for an elected clerks’ office making a campaign promise NOT to issue same-sex licenses. And might actually win. Now that I would not abide. I don’t think even the Dude would abide that.

  14. Mano Singham says

    While denying licenses to same-sex couples is bad enough and I think that she is going to be slapped down for that, I also agree with dogfightwithdogma @#6 that Davis has caused worse problems for herself by refusing to issue any licenses at all because she cannot use the religious argument to deny them to opposite-sex couples. In that case, she is flat out refusing to carry out a part of her job that she has been doing all along.

  15. A. Noyd says

    Honestly, I am just sick of these people whining about their religious beliefs being violated when what they really want is to be able to follow their prejudices.

    Po-tay-to, po-tah-to.

    I’m sick of them insisting that their personal beliefs have anything to do with their job as a representatives of the government. It’s not a job where you act on your own behalf. And if you can’t bring yourself to respect the wishes of the government, then step the fuck down.

  16. A. Noyd says

    DonDueed (#7)


    I think a little compromise might be in order. It would be reasonable to allow current employees to refuse to issue licenses — but only if there is someone else in the office who will do so.

    How about no. The job isn’t about acting on one’s own behalf and never was. If there are people who were confused about that fact when they got elected, that’s their own damn fault. And how’s it fair to gay taxpayers that they’d be expected to help pay the salaries of people who are allowed to actively defy the constitution and discriminate against them?

  17. EigenSprocketUK says

    #14 DonDueed, I know what you mean about jobs with ‘grandfathered’ contractual terms and conditions; new people don’t benefit from old terms. The employer manages the difference to provide the customer with the same service regardless.
    But here we’re talking about a legal change. If the speed limit on a street gets lowered, does one clerk/judge/magistrate get to issue tickets/fines according to the old speed limit which was in place when the started the job? (Or even better, chooses to apply the old limit only to their church friends.)

  18. frankgturner says

    @ Dondueed
    The point that I think is a bit ridiculous is that this woman can’t get past the idea of “if I say they are authorized, I am saying ‘I agree with it.'”
    .
    I would be like, “Really? So because individuals are authorized to engage in free speech, you agree with what they have to say even if it is mutually contradictory?” I would walk right up to her and ask her if she agrees with “2 + 2 = 5.”
    .
    This goes right up there with the “baking a cake for a gay wedding is participating in the wedding argument.” of that were true then selling a person a kitchen knife is participating in the murder when they stab someone with it. Then again some of these people think film and theatre is evil because they considered it lying (despite disclaimers).

  19. WhiteHatLurker says

    @dogfightwithdogma
    The suit from heterosexual couples has already happened.

  20. Mano Singham says

    SRA @#21,

    If they summarily fired her, she could sue them, claiming that they violated her constitutional protections against religious discrimination. I think her employers are waiting to see what the results of these lawsuits are.

  21. frankgturner says

    @ Mano Singham # 23
    In the long run that might be a better idea as it can set a precedent for future issues of said nature. She might have done better for her side of the cause to quit so that a court case does not set the precedent.

  22. Reginald Selkirk says

    According to Snopes, the rumor that the clerk Kim Davis has been married four times is probably true.

    Interesting. Jesus never said a word about homosexuality (that’s in other parts of the Bible), but he spoke out clearly against divorce and remarriage.

  23. Donnie says

    I wish, when these religious people say they asked god about this or that decision, they would be questioned about what form the answer from god took. Did they hear voices? Did god appear and speak in sign language? Did he send at text message?

    If I were the lawyer, I would phrase my questions as

    1. You read and study your bible, correct. You take it seriously? You try to live by its morals?
    2. What versus’ of the bible do you justify your biblical views?
    3. If Leviticus, my follow up would be, so you consider your god a vengeful and not a compassionate god?
    4. If not Leviticus…..another line that is not based upon the Old Testament but focused on “love they neighbor” and what versus’ in the new testament where god says he is against gays and lesbian and where god says marriage is “one man / one woman”
    5. So, you prayed to god and god answered your prayer?
    6. Doesn’t that make you a prophet? Doesn’t verse xxx.xxx say that False prophets should be killed?
    7. Doesn’t your bible also say something about ‘Divorce’, ‘premarital sex and virginity’. Do you ask heterosexual couples if they were previously married? Do you ask engaged heterosexual couples if they are virgins and/or cohabitating?
    8. In Loving versus Virginia, the dissent says this about “God”. Do you agree that blacks, whites, asians, should not marry and interbreed?
    9. do you eat shellfish?
    10. do you take offense at tattoos and deny licenses for tattoo parlors?
    11. I notice that you are wearing blended clothes. You are, as a devout christian, that god has commanded that we must not wear blended weaves.

    In summary, it is safe to assume that you consider yourself a cherry-picking christian – one of “those” Easter holiday christian. You only follow those rules of god that you feel personally about and not all the rules of god. Essentially, you admit that you are a hypocrite in the laws of god. if you disagree with my questions above, then please answer them because you have only evaded and dodged answering. Why is that?

    Note: For those who may not be aware, devout christians despise those christians that come to church only during major christian holidays : the day of Christ’s Mass and Easter. They hate them because they take up the pews of the good, godly, christians that are at church every Sunday and Wednesday. To call a devout Christian an “holiday christian” (there is a specific term but I cannot remember it) is the worst insult / implication that you can make.

  24. Saad says

    DonDueed, #7

    How does this sound:

    I have some sympathy for teachers like Ms. Davis. Teaching black children was not part of the job description when she was originally hired and change is hard for some people.

    I think a little compromise might be in order. It would be reasonable to allow current teachers to refuse to teach black children— but only if there is someone else in the school who will do so. Any new hire, of course, would be expected and required to teach black children.

    This might cause some inconvenience in the short term but the bigots will eventually retire or die off and the problem will be resolved.

    Let’s say no to Separate But Equal. We’ve been through this before.

  25. dogfightwithdogma says

    @22 WhiteHatLurker

    Thanks. I read your reply twice and both times I missed the part about the opposite-sex couple. Went back and read it again after reading your latest response. Saw it this time. I’ve got to take more care in reading things.

  26. Peter B says

    Re: #26 & #28: What I remember from my 1960’s evangelical young adulthood is “CE” for Christmas and Easter. (Not to be confused with Christian Endeavor.)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *